Thursday, January 7, 2021

The Story Behind the Story: HOME FOR A WHILE by Lauren Kerstein

The Story Behind the Story: HOME FOR A WHILE

Author: Lauren Kerstein 

Publisher: Magination Press

Illustrated by: Natalia Moore

Publication Date: February 2, 2021

In January 2016, I sat down to write a story about all of the children with whom I’d worked in day treatment centers, private practice, and in their homes. The words poured out of my heart. The original title was TRUE HOME. I wanted to capture the essence of the anxiety, displacement, and resilience of children in the foster care system and children struggling to manage their emotions. When I began working as a child andfamily psychotherapist, my goal was simple. I wanted to help children smile each day who wouldn’t necessarily have smiled otherwise. Although this goal was noble and is still the driving force behind my work, I quickly discovered there was so much more work to do. I realized we so often focus on pathology, negativity, and challenges, rather than strengths. I wanted to be sure that every child and every caregiver with whom I worked saw their strengths and learned how to capitalize on them. I hope HOME FOR A WHILE provides an example of the power of switching your lens, seeing your strengths, and learning ways to effectively manage big feelings for all children and families.

The incredibly insightful editors, art directors, and expert readers at Magination Press helped me polish Calvin’s story until it shined. And the unbelievably talented Natalia Moore brought Calvin’s story to life. Her illustrations breathed wonderful life into this story. I am so grateful! 

When we love others for who they are, we can change their lives forever. HOME FOR A WHILE highlights the power of this simple truth.

Lauren Kerstein is an author and psychotherapist. She is a Jersey girl at heart who currently lives in Colorado with her husband, their two daughters (who are beautiful inside and out), and their rescue dog. She is represented by Deborah Warren with East/West Literary Agency. Lauren's debut: ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions) splashed into bookstores in 2019. The companion volume, ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT (Illustrated by Nate Wragg/Two Lions), snuggled into bookshelves September 1, 2020. HOME FOR A WHILE (Illustrated by Natalia Moore/Magination Press) is expected February 2, 2021. Lauren also writes books in her field. Lauren is one of the founders of #ReVISIONweek, a judge with RateYour Story, runs a critique business, and is a long-time member of 12x12 and SCBWI. Visit her at, on Twitter @LaurenKerstein, Instagram @LaurenKerstein, or Facebook.

Check out the trailer for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE MAKE WAVES here: 

Check the trailer out the trailer for ROSIE THE DRAGON AND CHARLIE SAY GOOD NIGHT here: 

HOME FOR A WHILE is available to preorder

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Introducing...The Story Snowman! from The Picture Book Mechanic


If the Story Skeleton didn't speak to you, perhaps this enthusiastic guy will chill 
your character and plot problems! 

Keep on Writing!


Monday, January 4, 2021

THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Of Happy Birthday Trees by Karen Rostoker-Gruber

Buy Happy Birthday, Trees HERE


AUTHOR: Karen Rostoker-Gruber

ILLUSTRATOR: Holly Sterling 


 "Happy Birthday, Trees" backstory:

I was invited to a luncheon given by the PJ Library in New York a while back (pre-COVID). 

They told everyone there that they were looking for board books. I write a lot of board books, 
so when I went home that night I looked in my drawer and pulled out an old manuscript, 
which at that time was called, "Happy Birthday to the Trees." I sent it to the PJ Library and 
won their author incentive award (two thousand dollars). 

Then, Karen Grencik (my agent at the time) sold the book to Joni Sussman, at KarBen. Joni 
shortened the title to "Happy Birthday, Trees," which I like a lot better.

It's a board book about planting a tree with simple rhyming couplets and a repeated refrain. 
It's for the Jewish holiday Tu B'Shevat, which is very similar to Earth Day.

Holly Sterling's illustrations are very lively and colorful! The characters in this book look 
like they are having so much fun that I want to hop into her illustrations!
I also like the characters in my book because they come from diverse backgrounds and they 
are working together in harmony.

Karen Rostoker-Gruber is a multi-award-winning author of over 16 traditionally-published 
books with hundreds of thousands of copies sold. Farmer Kobi's Hanukkah Match, was 
named a National Jewish Book Award Finalist and was awarded the 2016 Outstanding 
Children's Literature Award from the Church and Synagogue Library Association. Her 
books Bandit (Marshall Cavendish 2008), Bandit's Surprise (Marshall Cavendish 2010), 
and Ferret Fun (Marshall Cavendish 2011) all received starred reviews in School Library 
Journal; Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (Dial 2004) and Bandit were both International 
Reading Association Children's Book Council Children's Choices Award recipients;  three 
of her books, Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo (in 2005), Bandit (in 2009), and 
Ferret Fun (in 2012) were all chosen for the 100 Best Children's Books in the Bureau 
of Education and Research's Best of the Year Handbook.  Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo 
and Ferret Fun were nominated for the Missouri Show Me Award; Bandit was nominated 
for the South Carolina Book Award; and Rooster Can't Cock-a-Doodle-Doo was a 
Dollywood Foundation selection two years in a row (in 2007 the Dollywood Foundation 
bought 73,579 copies and in 2008 it bought 88,996 copies). Karen's book, 
Maddie the Mitzvah Clown, published by Apples and Honey Press, a division of 
Behrman House, was named a PJ Library book selection in July of 2017 and went out to 
21,000 4-year-olds in the US and Canada. Karen's latest books, Happy Birthday, Trees 
(KarBen) and A Crowded Farmhouse Folktale (Whitman), will both be out in 2020.  
Karen is an active member of SCBWI, has twice co-chaired the Rutgers University 
Council on Children's Literature's One-on-One Conference, and is one of the co-founders 
of The Book Meshuggenahs.    

 @KarBenPub @TMeshuggenahs

Photo: Karen's Manuscript Files! 

THANK YOU for Sharing Your Story Behind the Story, Karen!